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Variations on Racinian Excuses
Author: Edward Forman
This comparative literary study re-evaluates the reciprocal relationship between tragic drama and current approaches to guilt and extenuation. Focussing on Racine but ranging widely, it sheds original light on tragic archetypes (Phaedra, Oedipus, Clytemnestra, Medea and others) through the lenses of performance theory and modern attitudes towards blame.
Tragic drama and legal systems both aim to evaluate the merits of excuses provided on behalf of perpetrators of catastrophic acts. Edward Forman wittily and provocatively explores modern judicial concepts – diminished responsibility, provocation, trauma, ignorance, scapegoating – through the responses of characters in tragedy. Attention is paid to the way in which classical plays (ancient Greek and seventeenth-century French) have been re-interpreted in performance in the light of modern perceptions of human responsibility and helplessness.

This paper argues for the political urgency of the project of World Cinema, and an understanding of World Cinema as a dynamic totality. Totality here is not a generic, macroscopic lens, but a system that accounts for the co-existence of all cinemas as well as the uneven power relationships that determine the relative visibility or invisibility of cinemas in the global system. This structural inequity, a condition that underlies the differentiated cinematic flows, is also a methodological ruse in that it can only point to unequal relationships in discourses that define the current conceptions of World Cinema. An awareness of totality, we argue, makes it possible to return to films themselves as nodal points from which to begin the mapping of World Cinema through its complex networks of financing, distribution, and its circuits of legitimation (film festivals, academic discourses) which shape world cinema as a body of knowledge.

In: Studies in World Cinema
In: Guilt and Extenuation in Tragedy
In: Guilt and Extenuation in Tragedy
In: Guilt and Extenuation in Tragedy
In: Guilt and Extenuation in Tragedy
In: Guilt and Extenuation in Tragedy
In: Guilt and Extenuation in Tragedy
In: Guilt and Extenuation in Tragedy
In: Guilt and Extenuation in Tragedy